Caudate Nucleus Volume and Cognitive Performance: Are They Related in Childhood Psychopathology?

Gerald T. Voelbel, Marsha E. Bates, Jennifer F. Buckman, Gahan Pandina, Robert L. Hendren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Impaired neuropsychological test performance, especially on tests of executive function and attention, is often seen in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Structures involved in fronto-striatal circuitry, such as the caudate nucleus, may support these cognitive abilities. However, few studies have examined caudate volumes specifically in children with ASD, or correlated caudate volumes to cognitive ability. Methods: Neuropsychological test scores and caudate volumes of children with ASD were compared to those of children with bipolar disorder (BD) and of typically developing (TD) children. The relationship between test performance and caudate volumes was analyzed. Results: The ASD group displayed larger right and left caudate volumes, and modest executive deficits, compared to TD controls. While caudate volume inversely predicted performance on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test in all participants, it differentially predicted performance on measures of attention across the ASD, BD and TD groups. Conclusions: Larger caudate volumes were related to impaired problem solving. On a test of attention, larger left caudate volumes predicted increased impulsivity and more omission errors in the ASD group as compared to the TD group, however smaller volume predicted poorer discriminant responding as compared to the BD group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)942-950
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 1 2006


  • Attention
  • autism spectrum disorders
  • bipolar disorder
  • caudate volume
  • executive function
  • neuroimaging
  • neuroscience
  • Cognitive Performance
  • Caudate Nucleus Volume
  • neuropsychology
  • ASD
  • autism
  • mental health
  • fronto-striatal circuitry
  • childhood psychopathology
  • Psychopathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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